Freshman Guide

InfoInfo TalkTalk

Welcome! If you are a first year or are about to get started, you have come to the right place! This page was created in hopes to connect UCD students with the general coping skills and resources useful for getting started at UCD. After looking through this guide, please continue with a review of the Unofficial Survival Guide to UC Davis, an addendum to this page and another great resource of broader skills that can be helpful throughout the years spent as a UCD student.

  1. Navigating the Bureaucracy
  2. Registering for Classes
  3. Adjusting to College
  4. Roommates
  5. Making Friends
  6. Money Issues
  7. Food
  8. Parties
  9. Drinking
  10. Safety

See also Transfer Student Guide and New Student Guide

Navigating the Bureaucracy

Registering for Classes

Adjusting to College

Avoid the freshmen herd mentality. If you are invited to go somewhere and thirty other freshmen are walking along side you, leave. You'll look stupid, and if you're headed for a party, no one will want you all there.

Don’t take things too seriously. Believe it or not, college is NOT real life. It’s just a glorious stepping stone along the way.

Time here flies by so fast— the end of the year will come before you know it.

No matter what your friends say about college and how much fun it is, know that you’re having more fun at Davis.

Your RA does not have x-ray vision. You will be able to get away with a lot as long as you are not ridiculously loud. Test the boundaries, enjoy breaking the rules. But don't be stupid. You can get yourself in trouble if you break the rules too many times. The only reason drunk people get caught in the dorms is because they won't shut up when everyone else is trying to sleep. In fact, the zealous enforcement of the noise policy is intended to catch alcohol use. Be quiet about your drinking (and general shenanigans) and nobody will be the wiser. Seriously.

NEVER say that Davis is boring. If you think that, it means that you are boring. There is always something to do, and if there isn't, start something on your own. Be creative, discover things, learn that one of the best things about UC Davis is that you are entirely in control of how much fun you have or don't have.

If you're still bored, look into joining the ASUCD student government. They'll put you to work. Hell, Kalen got elected during his first year, and Paul did pretty much everything his first year but get elected; there are other roles that are much easier to get (student government officers will usually hand out volunteer "internships," sight unseen). College student government actually does some neat and useful things (and you get to make people pay for things they might not need or want), unlike your crappy high school student government. (e.g. Generation Sex Week, Unitrans) It's a good way to meet a lot of different people.

Laundry is overrated, and usually unnecessary.

Go to the ARC, even if you’re not the gym type. Bring friends or an iPod. Even if you only go once your first week, it’ll make you feel good about yourself. Check out this beginner's guide as well.

Go to the all the following places a few times your first year: big kids park, arboretum, rec pool. The first one is great while drunk, the second is great for secret nighttime sex. Take your pick. The third is a meat market.

Another little tidbit of advice, even if it sounds parent-like. For God's sake, don't get (yourself or someone else) pregnant. Have fun, but be smart and do it safe. For most people, the ethical dilemma and the stress level of using some form of birth control beforehand is zero. Contrast that to the ethical dilemma and stress level that many people experience when trying to decide what to do afterward.

Love your bike like you love your car, and it will be much nicer to you.

Listen to what’s happening around you, follow like it’s your bible, and talk to current students. Then show up with NO idea of what you’re doing and figure it out along the way— eventually you’ll figure out what’s best for you.

Oh, and don't forget to take off your blue student housing lanyards — they make you stick out!

Share your music over the dorm network. Steal as much music from your dormmates as you can before you get out. They’ll be doing the exact same thing, so don’t feel bad. It's safer than downloading music from the internet and SJA won't get involved.

Call and talk to your parents, not just when you need something. You'll appreciate them a lot more when you don't have to live with them. Make sure you throw in "I love you" too.

Have a camera with you as often as possible, especially when you are going to parties, but even just in general. Crazy things happen unexpectedly in Davis and you don’t want to miss out on capturing the moment.

Don’t spend too much time on IM or Facebook. Have a real conversation with real people.

Picnic Day rocks. Be drunk explore the open campus all day, walk around with friends, and go do the fun stuff offered. Whole Earth Festival is fun as well once you get over the massive hypocrisy and that fact that it's *different* to how it was in the 70's.

Many students can develop depression at some point in school. Its a natural, and common occurrence that a lot of students face. If you or someone you know is feeling depressed, check out the UC Davis Counseling and Psychological Services.

For more information on adjusting to the College Life, see the Unofficial Survival Guide to UC Davis.


Try to be good friends with your roommate, but if you don't get along, accept that no one is forcing you to be best friends. It's okay if you have completely separate lives and just happen to share a room.

If you do get along with your roommate, count your lucky stars, and make sure they know how thankful you are for having them in your life.

Making Friends

Meet as many people as you can. Understand that you are all fresh meat in a big world, that everyone feels as stupid as you do, and there is no such thing as "popular" yet. Most people will thoroughly appreciate random "hellos", and those who don't aren't worth meeting anyways.

College is full of people you won't get along with. Some are pretentious, and others are just plain idiots. Find a screening system for your friends and learn quickly that you don't need to hang out with everyone. Ditch those who don't fit and move on— eventually they'll find other people to socialize with and they'll stop bothering you. You'll be left with friends you actually want.

Get to know a lot of people. Have tons of friends on Facebook, know at least three upperclassmen who would help you out if you need it, and know at least one freshman who has a car. They will have to move their car around a lot because of the lack of a permit, so go with them while they do to keep them company and then they will be willing to give you rides.

The following questions are generally safe when meeting someone new: "What year are you? What's your major? What classes are you in? Are you done with classes today? What building do you live in? Where are you from originally?" and so on. Most of these will not bring up stories of dead relatives or childhood traumas that you'd like to avoid. But if you want to stand out and actually come across an interesting person, don't ask the questions above. Find out something about their personality, not what it says on their class schedule.

Make friends in some classes, but in others enjoy your anonymity. Sometimes you need a friend to help you get through a class, or to make sure that you actually go, but there will be classes that you'd rather just sit through without having to make small talk. It's one of the many lovely advantages of going to a big university.

Even though you'll meet tons of people (and probably forget a lot of them too), have a solid group of 5-10 friends who are actually your good friends... as in, they know your life story, you can talk to them about your problems, you call them frequently, and they have the license to wander into your room whenever they feel like it. Knowing lots of people is fine and dandy, but it's this group of people who will make college great.

Your RA will probably tell you to leave your door open all the time. Do this for a week, then recognize that the people you actually want in your room will come in whether it's open or not, and that the only people you are attracting with an open door are people you may not really want to talk to.

Get involved with some of the over 700 clubs on campus. It's a fun, free way to meet lots of cool people, receive real world experience, and get involved. Check out some of the Student Organizations on the wiki. Davis is a small town. This gives you a bunch of good friends and something always to do.

Check out the Greek scene, especially at the beginning of your freshmen year. It might be for you, it might not be but how would you know until you go check it out? Don't be the kid that hears about HOUSEBOATS in April.

Money Issues

When arriving at college you definitely need a place to bank. There are many local banks and credit unions where you can deposit your money. It is also a good idea to get an ATM or debit card if you don't have one already.

Many credit unions and some banks offer free checking with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. This is good because many freshmen often don't have much money to spend on monthly bank fees.

Credit Unions offer the same services as a bank such as checking and savings accounts. They are not-for-profit cooperatives and often have fewer fees and better deals than for-profit banks.

The closest credit union to campus is USE Credit Union and they have free checking and free checks for life. Golden 1 Credit Union is the next closest and they offer free checking with one free box of checks. Remember that once you are a credit union member you can use any credit union ATM in Davis for free. You can make deposits or get cash at any credit union ATM. There are many credit union ATMs on campus. The Credit Union CO-OP ATM network allows you free use of virtually any credit union ATM nationwide. USE and Golden 1 are part of the shared branch network. You can bank in person at any participating shared branch for free and get cash or make deposits. Your parents, or anyone else, can deposit money to your account if they go to a participating credit union shared branch in any state. The credit unions in Davis also offer free online banking and free online bill pay.

US Bank offers a student checking account, however only the first set of checks is free and US Bank conducts a hard credit inquiry which lowers your credit score and can damage your credit rating.

USE Credit Union offers free checks for life and gives you $25 for every new member that you refer. You can make up to $150 for referring members. This extra money is a nice perk for new freshmen.


Eat at the DC alone a few times so that you can prove to yourself that when you do, not everyone is staring at you and assuming you are a complete loner. But don't eat at the DC alone all the time. You'll be that kid.

Don't bother getting dressed up or showering to go to the DC. You're there to eat. Nobody cares how you look.

If you hate the DC, use the fact that each meal costs around 8 dollars to your advantage. The biggest meal plan is 180, the smallest is 90. When you realize you hate it, reduce your meal plan to 90, and make your parents give you cash to go out to eat instead. Since each swipe is 8 dollars, multiply that by the difference in meal plan size (i.e., 180-90 = 90) so 90 times 8 = 720. That's 720 dollars that you'd get in your pocket for each quarter just for going out to food. If your parents say that is too much, compromise down to 500. You'll be golden and food at the CoHo is better anyways.

You can always upgrade to a bigger meal plan, so it would be best to get the cheapest meal plan and only upgrade to a bigger meal plan if you need it. Otherwise, you will end up having extra meals leftover at the end of the year at which time it will convert to Aggie Cash at $2.25 per meal. This means that you will lose almost $6 per meal. Save money by going with the smallest meal plan.

Don't shop at The Junction or Trudy's. If you do, use money. Using your $7 swipes for a candy bar is a waste of money. $14 for chips??

Swipe in upperclassmen in exchange for booze or rides. If you don't need either immediately, swipe them in now for points in the future. This is called the 40 ounce meal plan. Join the UCD LiveJournal community if you need to find these upperclassmen who are desperate for swipes. They are in abundance there.

Splurge on snacks from Safeway that aren’t junk food. You can get that stuff at the other places. You will begin to crave things that are not made entirely of fat or sugar. Boxes of cereal are your friends.

When eating pizza from the DC, as a general rule it's considered impolite to take more than two slices of pizza at a time. Take two, and if you're still hungry, take one or two more. Remember that you're sharing that pizza with your entire residential area.


Drink often, go to many parties, be stupid. The phrase "drink responsibly" does not mean that you can't get wasted, it means "hey, you probably don't want to spend tonight puking in your roommate's closet, let's avoid that." Learn the difference between being wasted and being a drunken asshole. If you don't want to clean up someone else's vomit, don't make them clean up yours.

At the same time, don't let anyone pressure you to drink more than you are comfortable with. Sexual assault is a real and serious problem at UC Davis and colleges in general. Also keep in mind that you are paying a lot of money to go here, so don't let partying distract you from school. College is not "high school without parents," and you don't want regret spending all your time partying when you could have been taking advantage of the many resources here to further your educational and career goals.

Some of these different people are hippies; be sure to party with the hippies at the On Campus Co-ops at least once. They really know how to party.

Water is your best friend, and not just when you are consuming alcohol. You’ll find that you’ll be getting lots of cravings for food, but really you just need ANYTHING, whether it’s a beverage or actual food. If you keep water around and sip on that, you’ll get rid of cravings. Oh, and you’ll need it when you’re drunk too.

Help people who puke when they are drunk. Find people who are out of control and make them drink lots of water. It doesn't matter if they know you or not— they'll be thankful.

Don't abuse Tipsy Taxi. Walk there if you have to, but don't haul your 30 freshmen friends onto the bus. That's just abusing a great privilege.

Try to know what members of the other/same sex that you mess around with before that party. You could easily catch something as light as mono or a more hardcore STD. Do not automatically believe them if they say "It is just a cold sore" or "Don't worry its my first time." You could wake up the next morning with a brand new disease infecting your system.

Party as much as you want/need in your first two years. Classes get harder and you're more than likely to be more busy with extra-curricular activities and jobs in your later years. In your later years you'll actually begin to feel old and not be able to bounce back as easily. Be stupid when you can, but avoid alcohol poisoning eh?


If you choose to drink, be responsible. Use Tipsy Taxi if you have to.


Watch out for yourself and your friends. Davis and UC Davis are fairly safe areas and not much violent criminal activity happens, but it is still a college town, and stuff does happen!

Care for yourself when intoxicated, and definitely care for your friends! Especially girls, use the buddy system at parties. Rape is an occurrence on every college campus, Davis is no exception. Watch your drinks, watch your friends, and plan a safe way to get home.

The police are actually your friends. Believe it or not, their job isn't to just bust you for having fun. The reason Davis is such a safe city is because of them. A lot of people at Davis will experience a time when they become grateful for the Po-po. Just be reasonable with your drinking and be safe, their goal is to ensure that. I have seem them give rides home to overly drunk freshman and just maintain the safety at extremely large parties. It's only when you have the problem, that they have the problem. Don't be afraid to call 9-1-1 if needed.

Be aware of the services offered by UC Davis and City of Davis. Check out Emergency Services or Emergency Psychological Services. This for many people is their first time away from home, you are now adults and responsible for yourselves and your actions. Again, help your friends with this.

Lock your doors, protect your valuables, lock your bike! All important! Thieves are around in Davis.

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